Boys’ soccer triumphed 2-1 over Crean Lutheran in the first round of CIF play on Friday, February 16. Despite a stagnant first half, the team utilized its superior ball movement to punish the Irvine Saints’s defense and subsequently advance to the second round of the postseason.
After winning a miraculous wildcard match on Wednesday, the team struggled to carry its momentum into early possessions against Crean Lutheran. The ball lingered around midfield often, as junior Eamonn Hornish and Jett Donlevy, battled in the trenches against the well-motivated Saints. It wasn’t until late in the first half that South Pas began to impose its will against Lutheran, with stellar communication and penetration. Despite these advances, the team still failed to complete any of its deep ventures into Saints territory. By the end of the half, it was obvious that South Pasadena had its adversary up against the ropes, despite the two team ending the first period tied scoreless.
When the second half opened, South Pasadena continued the narrative it had opened in the first: dominance by athleticism. The Saints ran an offside trap, which South Pasadena adjusted to quickly. The strategy kept the Tigers at bay early, but could not contain the South Pasadena speed down the stretch. Senior David Choi led the first scoring drive, as he pounded down the Crean Lutheran sideline, sending a volley to senior Jack Renken, who finished in the upper right corner of the goal.
The 1-0 lead was short lived, however, as the Saints tied the game on a free kick header. The small miscue was far from an accurate representation of South Pas’ tenacious defense, which blanketed all other scoring opportunities.
With momentum hanging in the balance, Addison Foord took charger. The junior danced through five Saints defenders, sending a through ball to Renken. Taking the ball up the middle, Renken drew the goalie out, cutting past him, and then gracefully dumping the ball into the net.
After securing a 2-1 lead, the defense kept its cool, with the game-sealing ball control and pressure that has stifled Crean Lutheran all game.
With the victory, South Pasadena will play at home on Wednesday against Riverside Prep , February 21.